Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
To say I was hesitant to invest in an e-reader is an understatement. I was loath to do so. Oh how I love the physicality of books. I love holding books. I love smelling books. My obsession with books doesn’t just verge on unhealthy, it crosses the line and keeps on running straight into insanity. Some of my favorite books I own in multiple editions and I will always, always spring for a hardcover just because they’re beautiful and sturdy.
My hesitation to abandon the once hailed destruction of literature that is the printing press for the newest destruction of literature that is the e-reader also had a practical element. I have a neurological disorder that is accompanied by severe photosensitivity. I get sick from such exciting things as “flash photography.” I can’t play 99% of video games and even some iPhone games make me seriously dizzy. I tried out the Kindle app on my husband’s iPad and got motion sick due to the combo of backlighting and my speed reading (seriously, faster than a speeding bullet am I).
Then came breastfeeding. Nothing like being trapped under a baby to make a person feel bored and braindead. I desperately wanted to read, even if I was just reading fluff, and found that holding a book wasn’t going to work out for me while also trying to snuggle an eel (seriously, this child and the squirming). I could manage Paulo one-handed, but I couldn’t also manage a book in the other hand. I had the brilliant idea that maybe, just maybe I could hold a Kindle… if only I could test drive one to see if this “e-ink” was as easy on the eyes as advertised.
As soon as I got this brilliant idea – when my son was approximately a week old – we hightailed it to Best Buy to see about investing in my sanity. I was going through book withdrawal. I tried out a Kindle and found that while I found the page-turning animation to be mildly irritating, it didn’t physically bother me. I bought the smaller size, as to hold in one hand with greater ease, and went home to binge on literature.
Actually, that’s not true. Due to the ability to just download books faster than anyone could read them, I have set very strict limits on myself that I can’t download anything unless I’m actively reading it. I must say, that I didn’t think about this feature too much before getting my Kindle, but the “read a sample” option is seriously the greatest thing ever. Sure, you *could* do that in a bookstore, but who ever does? Now, I totally read a chapter before deciding to buy a book. And ok, I almost always decide to buy it anyway, but I test drove it first! Also, being able to buy a book from my bedroom? Amazing.
I even subscribed to the New Yorker to be able to read it without piles of unread issues cluttering my living room! My husband was actually thrilled that I bought a Kindle due to the book… problem… in our home. I don’t even have half of my books in our house and my shelves overfloweth. Living with a minimalist who once tried to limit me to 50 books is trying indeed. He’s totally over the moon that I can continue getting my book fix without adding one more thing to make him twitch.
(Honestly, he’s so bad with stuff that when I got pregnant one of my close relatives asked me which one of the cats he was planning on getting rid of to trade off for the baby.)
(I’m sort of surprised we still have both cats, actually.)
I credit the Kindle with my getting a few books read while nursing my son. Though I will say that since it’s also so easy to delete books and I pay so much less for them than I do for physical copies that I’ve given up on almost as many as I’ve read. This is also one of the ways in being a parent has changed my priorities. If a book isn’t so good that I look forward to nursing to read another chapter, I’m not wasting my time on it.
If you know a new mama or mama-to-be and have $150 or so to drop on a swanky gift, seriously. The Kindle. Do it.
Over the past year, both Sonika and I have become pregnant, birthed baby boys, and survived the first newborn weeks. Now her son is more than three months old, and mine is 7 weeks old. During this time (the entire year), reading has been a challenge of varying proportions either due to morning sickness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, or having hands full of tiny humans. However being the voracious readers we are (and stellar parents), we have discovered it is possible to read while breastfeeding- especially with the help of a Kindle (this is only Sonika) or tricky maneuvering of paperbacks.
I am thrilled that I have finally finished several post-birth books, and wanted to bring back the blog to make time for myself to write, motivate myself to make time to both read and finish books, and remind myself I know monosyllabic words. I can’t promise length or coherency, but I’m sure that wasn’t what anyone was looking for from either of us anyway. And based on what I know about sleep deprivation from college and these past weeks, blunt statements have a habit of turning out to be more humorous than I had intended. Enjoy.
So many people hate Thomas Friedman, and so I would never tell them this, but I kind of like the guy’s books. Granted, his writing is not by any stretch of the imagination all people should read about foreign relations, but it’s a good start and hell, he’s not nearly as dry as some people. Or as humorless. Plus, controversies and criticisms keep us all entertained.
Therefore, whether you like Friedman may be irrelevant, and I think the truth of his thesis stands: Corporations are not going to move to energy efficient products/processes because it’s the right thing to do (though it is). It also has to be profitable for them. Secondly, if American corporations don’t start working on it big time, the Chinese will, and then we’ll be buying all of our energy efficient products from them. Now, there’s a zillion different ways to get from point A to point B, but it’s long past time to get started.
Friedman makes the excellent point that 16% of the healthcare budget goes into research, but less than 1% of the budget for energy goes toward research. Ramp that up and we could make the technology- which is already there- much more accessible by decreasing size and increasing production, both of which would bring down costs.
This book only served to reinforce my view that corporations aren’t individuals, and as much as we might want them to do something because “it’s the right thing to do,” if it’s actually going to happen, it needs to be profitable for them. Corporations are not in the business of helping people; they are in business to make money. This isn’t a judgment statement, but rather a full recognition on my part that the only way to truly begin handling climate change and sustainable living will involve at the very minimum regulation and incentives, and possibly the small reminder that sooner or later, all businesses have to evolve or risk going extinct.
Oh, Anne Boleyn. Is there anything I love more than Anne Boleyn? No, no there is not. She’s why I watched the first two seasons of the Tudors – I can’t be bothered to care about the final four wives of Henry VIII, for me it’s all about Anne Boleyn. She’s endlessly fascinating to me – she rose so fast, due to political forces, of course, but truly one of the few women in history who gained power through her own efforts – and then… fell so hard.
I’ve read several biographies of Anne (and duh, I read The Other Boleyn Girl, though I haven’t watched the movie yet), but none really go into the details of her fall other than “Smells like a setup.” The Lady in the Tower outlines the general feeling in England at the time of Anne’s miscarriage in January 1536 and, rightly, starts there as the beginning of the end.
And she goes right up to the bitter end, documenting the various existing versions of Anne’s scaffold speech and the evidence that her bones in St. Peter ad Vincula are probably not the ones labeled as “hers.” The case against Anne and the five men accused of adultery with her (including her brother!) is gone into with incredible care and detail – not only to the charges against them, but into the legal process at the time. It’s very illuminating to read that by the standards of the time, while she may have been tried on trumped up charges, Anne’s trial was no sham. Tudor legal proceedings are incredibly different from what we today consider “due process.” Whether or not we’ve evolved a more fair system of legal representation, at least we’ve gotten beyond commuting a death sentence to beheading as an actual act of mercy.
I could go on and on about my own theories about Anne’s trial (I essentially believe that from the historical details she couldn’t be guilty of adultery during Henry’s reign, and that the case against her is a cover-up for the actual reason of her removal, which was likely a plot to kill Lady Mary, daughter of Katherine of Aragorn – something that Anne certainly discussed “in jest” and may have seriously moved on. This could have very well necessitated a cover-up to prevent Elizabeth from being in physical peril from Mary’s supporters.) – I would simply say that this book provides as much detail as we can have on a trial that took place nearly 500 years ago. Very compelling, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good beheading.
Bel Canto was the last book I began in 2009 and first book I finished in 2010, and wow, how haunting and lovely. I don’t think it’ll be one of my favorite books ever, but it was perfect for when you want a good book that will affect you but isn’t impossible to read.
Bel Canto opens in an unnamed South American country at the Vice President’s house with a famous opera singer performing for a birthday party hosted for a potential Japanese investor. He actually has no intention of opening a company in this country, and came only to hear his favorite opera singer. The singer, Roxann Coss, turned down the request to sing several times until sufficient money was offered. The President of the country bailed on the party so he could watch his soap opera. And on, and on, so many of the attendees were narrowly not at the party, and that’s how life is. So when everyone is taken hostage by a revolutionary group with unclear plans or motives, it seems fantastical and not at the same time. After all, how many times do people say they could have been on a plane, at a home, anywhere something happened and then narrowly weren’t because they forgot their keys? Or didn’t have ID?
Such is the case. But when the would-be kidnappers realize that the President isn’t there to kidnap, they have no back-up plan and resort to holding everyone hostage, and are content to exist in a stalemate with the government and world at large for five months. During this time, Patchett makes both the gunmen (the majority of whom turn out to be teenagers) and the hostages fully realized characters who form intriguing connections in this isolated existence. People who don’t speak the same language fall in love, including the singer and the Japanese investor, and his translator falls for one of the gunmen who is revealed to be a teenage girl who wants to learn to read. And yet, all of these connections are fragile, and may not survive after the situation has ended.
At the same time, this slowness to start is one of the drawbacks, and I think it will see if this book improves or dulls upon repeat readings. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say I found the book moving, and well worth the time invested to get to the core of the story. The writing was also impressive, and I’d definitely read another of Patchett’s works.
As Sonika needs some time to herself and I’m holding down the fort by myself, I wanted to put it out into the universe that we’d love guest posts here. You know, in case anyone else still reads books* and has time to mess around while they’re supposed to be working. Just let me know at the convenient email address of goudakat at gmail, and I’ll hook you up.
**Books read on a Kindle need not apply. KTHXBAI